★★★| In this one man, twenty-one woman show, the Faaaabulous Ceri Dupree brings an evening of glitz, glamour and variety to the theatre. Featuring a combination of original songs, colourful characters, female impersonations, anecdotal comedy, an abundance of feathers and sequins, quick fire one liners and healthy dose of tongue in cheek sardonic barbs aimed at members of the audience, the show is unashamedly old school drag.
Taking the scattergun approach to comedy, there was a good mixture of comedy, ranging from gentle observations to the slightly risqué to the downright crude, with the vast majority of the gags hitting the spot. Throw into this, a slew of characters, from Dame Edna Everage to Camilla Parker Bowles, from Shirley Bassey to Mary Hopkins and from Amy Winehouse to Gladys Pugh, there were plenty of laughs to be had.
The show is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of success. Parts of the act were hilarious – such as the Dame Edna section, which involved copious amounts of ribbing members of the audience, whereas the Amy Winehouse impersonation fell rather flat and garnered little response. Some of the jokes were probably around when Bernadette was touring with Les Girls, and some of the relevance of the characters, such as Gladys Pugh (from Hi-Di-Hi) and Mary Hopkins would be lost on many of the younger members of the community (although gays of a certain age (like me) will find it hilarious).
But that said, the show shone brightly in the main, especially with the original songs, some hilariously blue and innuendo filled humour, a song-laden second act and genuine warmth resonating throughout. With drag standards all present and correct, Joan Collins, Shirley Bassey, Kathyrn Jenkins, Charlotte Church and even the Queen don’t escape unscathed. As the show rounds to a close with the mirror balls spinning and the audience on their feet for a rousing rendition of I Am What I Am, you know that you are firmly in the campest of floorshows.
The show is pure cabaret, of the ilk which is reminiscent of the old days of variety in the style of Hinge and Bracket or Danny La Rue. What makes the show stand out is that it does away with the bitchiness and backstabbing and places the fun and entertainment value of drag squarely in the centre of the stage. Whilst there is very little here that you won’t have seen before if you had been knocking around the scene in the eighties, the show ups the ante of the pub cabaret circuit and delivers a quality and style of show which is becoming harder to find on the scene.
Slick, polished and with more laugh out loud moments than anticipated, this is a show which will either take you back to your youth, or show you how it used to be done properly.
The Faaaabulous Ceri Dupree Show was reviewed at CAST in Doncaster, who have a varied and packed programme of shows and is a cultural gem in the heart of the city. Visit https://castindoncaster.com/ for details. The show is on national tour and details can be found at http://www.ceridupree.co/index.html
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.